Yesterday, February 12, was also the bicentennial of the birth of Charles Darwin. 2009 marks the 150th anniversary of his masterwork, The Origin of Species.
As you would jolly well expect, Britain has wholehearted celebrations of its greatest biologist: possibly its greatest scientist, certainly its nicest great one. The party is centred on the Natural History Museum in London, but extends to a week-long festival in July in Darwin’s alma mater Cambridge, and dozens of events around the country. The BBC has wall-to-wall Darwin programming. What about the USA?
The national museum of science, the Smithsonian, marked the central discovery of biology yesterday with one three-hour symposium on Darwin and his “influential” book. You can find seminars and lecture series at half-a-dozen universities, including UCLA. Google did one of its clever special logos for its search page. The idea of a simple commemorative postage stamp was too hot for the US Postal Service.
There is an annual Darwin Day, hijacked by militant atheists. There was an “Evolutionpalooza” in San Francisco
where 100 guests of the local atheist club ate birthday cake and heard the Charles Darwin Backup Singers belt out “The Twelve Ages of Evolution”.
This is exactly the sort of nonsense that the pacific Darwin feared when he’d worked out his culturally explosive theory in the years following the Beagle voyage, and held him back from publishing for 20 years.
Update – same day
Virginia GOP Chairman Jeff Frederick celebrates the anniversaries in his own way. (h/t Steve Benen)